The recovery of Dubai's tourism sector is "gathering pace", Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said as the emirate marked a year since reopening its borders.
Dubai welcomed 3.7 million visitors in the 11 months from July 2020 and May 2021, with 2 million of those arriving in the first five months of this year, said the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, known as Dubai Tourism.
"The new data reveals that Dubai’s tourism rebound is gathering pace despite the current challenges faced by international markets," Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement issued by the Dubai Media Office.
"The growing momentum of recovery not only reflects the fundamental strengths of Dubai’s tourism sector and the diversity of its source markets but also the emirate’s economic resilience and agility in the face of a rapidly fluctuating global environment," he added.
The travel and tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, with border closures to stem the pandemic's spread particularly damaging. More than $4.5 trillion in revenue was lost by the industry last year, as its contribution to global GDP slipped to 5.5 per cent, from 10.4 per cent in 2019, said a World Travel and Tourism Council report published in May. The number of people working in the industry fell by 18.5 per cent, leading to 62 million job losses, the report said. In the Middle East, travel and tourism's contribution to GDP fell 51.1 per cent last year.
In Dubai, domestic tourism softened the blow caused by the pandemic with the emirate's hotels welcoming 5.5 million visitors during the 11 months to May, an increase of 106 per cent on the 2.66 million visitors in the same period a year earlier. Higher occupancy rates are also pushing up hotel revenues, with average daily room rates recovering to Dh383 ($104.2) by May 2021, from Dh238 when the emirate reopened last July.
Guest numbers were also boosted by the return of in-person exhibitions and trade shows such as Gitex, Gulfood and Arabian Travel Market, with the emirate hosting 3,136 events between September 2020 and mid-May, attended by 813,832 delegates, the statement said.
Dubai's "rigorous" precautionary Covid-19 protocols made the city a safe destination for travellers, Sheikh Hamdan said.
"As we gear up to host Expo 2020, these exceptional standards will enable us ensure the event provides the highest global benchmarks of safety and security for all visitors.”